Practicing perfection

Bassoonist Dave Krabill featured during PT Symphony Orchestra opener

Posted 10/23/19

When Dave Krabill was just a wee lad growing up on an Ohio farm, he gladly traded a pair of udders for ivory keys.

“I practiced the piano an hour a day when I was a kid, and the basson half an hour a day,” Krabill said. “My dad told me I didn't have to come out and milk the cows in the morning if I practiced the hour of piano. After school, it was in the barn.”

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Practicing perfection

Bassoonist Dave Krabill featured during PT Symphony Orchestra opener

Posted

When Dave Krabill was just a wee lad growing up on an Ohio farm, he gladly traded a pair of udders for ivory keys.

“I practiced the piano an hour a day when I was a kid, and the basson half an hour a day,” Krabill said. “My dad told me I didn't have to come out and milk the cows in the morning if I practiced the hour of piano. After school, it was in the barn.”

Krabill, 68, of Port Townsend, is principal bassoonist with the Port Townsend Symphony Orchestra and co-principal bassoonist with the Port Angeles Symphony and the Port Angeles Chamber Orchestra.

Even though he has been performing bassoon for about most of his life,Krabill still practices his chops for hours a day. His goal now is to perform “Bassoon Concerto in B-flat major,” by Mozart without errors during the season opening show of the Port Townsend Symphony Orchestra.

“Hopefully the audience won’t hear any errors,” Krabill said. “It is very accessible and even the most untrained ear would be able to hear an error. Hopefully I won’t make too many mistakes. Knowing I have to play that piece of music keeps my on my toes.”

To prepare, Krabill runs through the scales over and over again, he said.

“It is the same thing I have been doing for the past 40 years, practicing scales up and down, back and forth, faster and slower with a metronome very carefully.”

Krabill said he practices diligently, but must be careful not to overextend himself.

“What I have to watch out for is that I don’t practice those couple hours on the day of the performance. Hopefully there is just a quick warmup and I will go out and do it.”

This performance also features “Fanfare for the Common Man” by Copland and the Symphony No. 9 in E minor, "From the New World" by Dvořák.

“This next concert does push me quite a bit,” Krabill said. “There is a major symphony we are playing. When you play a complete symphony, which may last as long as an hour, and then turn around and go back out for a solo, that is stressful.”

Not that Krabill isn’t up for the challenge. He studied at Kent State University and had further studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music. He spent several summers at the Blossom Festival of Music studying with members of the Cleveland Orchestra.

He moved to Canada in the early 1970s to play principal bassoon with the Atlantic Symphony Orchestra in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He also performed frequently for CBC Radio and Television. Along with his wife, Anne, he was a member of the East Coast Woodwind Trio and the Scotia Winds quintet, and taught bassoon and chamber music at Dalhousie University.

Dave and Anne raised their four children in Port Townsend and said they are delighted their two grandsons also call the area home.

Krabill stepped away from orchestral gigs for many years to focus on his family business, the Emerald Reed Company of Port Townsend.

“We are making reeds for beginners,” he said. “When a sixth grade oboist needs a reed the idea is this plays right away and easily. A professional would not be able to use those reeds.”

Krabill said he performs on reeds imported from Europe.

Many reeds are made out of Arundo donax, a cane native to southern France.

“It has been used for this purpose for almost 400 years. We don’t want it to be too soft or the reeds will be bad. The harder the cane, generally the better it is.”

Now that his four children have grown and left the roost, Krabill has time again to perform in an orchestral setting.

“It is my hobby now, I am doing it for fun. When we were doing it to make a living, that was different. It was very stressful.”

He said his favorite part about being in the symphony is performing with his wife Anne.

“I enjoy having my wife sitting directly in front of me. She is the principal oboist. We did that for the 12 years we played for an orchestra in Canada.”

Upcoming performances include:

The Grand Finale: Featuring Radetzky March by Strauss with Phil Andrus conducting, Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky, and the Violin Concerto in E minor by Mendelssohn with soloist Myroslava Khomik, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7 at Chimacum High School.

Literature in Music: Featuring Merry Wives of Windsor Overture by Nicolai, Romeo and Juliet Fantasy by Tchaikovsky, and Pelleas and Melisande by Faure., 2 p.m. Feb. 23 at Chimacum High School.

Acclaimed Masterpieces: Featuring “Gaelic Symphony” by Beach, “Trumpet Concerto in A-flat major” by Arutunian with soloist Erick Jovel, and the Young Artist Competition winner and soloist, 2 p.m. April 26 at Chimacum High School.

Port Townsend Chamber Orchestra: Featuring Waltz by Shostakovich, Concertino for Oboe and Strings by Blauth with soloist Anne Krabill, and Violin Concerto No. 4 by Mozart with soloist Roman Yearian, 7 p.m. June 6 at Finnriver Farm and Cidery.

Port Townsend Chamber Orchestra, 2 p.m. June 7 at Port Townsend High School Auditorium.

The concerts are free with donations accepted at the door.

For additional details and updates visit ptsymphony.org.

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